It was way back in the second episode of Season 1 of How I Met Your Mother when we found out that Ted Mosby would meet his eventual wife at a wedding. We discovered in the final episode of the sixth season, just over a year and a half ago, that the groom at this wedding would be Barney Stinson. And this past May, it was revealed that the bride would be none other than Robin Scherbatsky. So, we knew all that. Even with this season's premiere hinting at the parties not actually going through with their vows, we knew for sure that a wedding (in some form) would take place. So this week's "big twist" that Barney was actually using his relationship with Patrice as a cover for his plan to propose to Robin is a far cry from surprising, and as such not as effective as the show might have hoped it would be.
If you've been keeping up with the show, you've noticed that Barney has taken a liking to Robin's much detested coworker Patrice: a sweet and wholesome type, far from the deceitful strippers to whom he usually gets engaged. But with the impending Stinson/Scherbatsky wedding on our minds, it's been hard to truly fall into the show's web of lies and accept that the unlikely relationship was at all for real. Clearly, we know Barney better than his friends do — Ted, Marshall, and Lily all subscribe to the idea that Barney has turned over a new (albeit misguided) leaf, and is genuine in his devotion to Patrice. Robin, however, has maintained the school of thought that her beloved is a lying bastard who is just duping everyone to get what he wants. And she's right. But she's totally cool with that.
The first half of the midseason finale has Barney a victim of the deadly rules of Jinx: following an inadvertent episode of simultaneous speech with Marshall, Barney is doomed to silence until one of his friends says his name, lest he be cursed with the consequences. These people believe in this stuff. As we covered last week, they're all suffering from mental instability resultant of chronic insomnia. So, we can't be surprised if they think speaking in spite of a Jinx would result in heinous consequences. Anyway, without the ability to chime in his bro puns or sexual innuendos, Barney has little to do here. He just waits around while Ted explores his resentment for an unsupportive college professor, Robin grapples with her hatred for and jealousy of Patrice, and Marshall and Lily talk about how much Seth Green sucks. He appears in this episode, and he wants to play hackeysack with them. I think he might be playing a character, but it's hard to tell with Seth Green.
While the rest of the cast members eventually come to terms with their festering rages, Barney manages to disclose to Ted (after tricking him into saying his name) that he plans to propose to Patrice, setting in forth the next step in the final page (hence the episode title) of his Playbook. This season, he's already presented his feelings to Robin, kissed her at an inappropriate juncture, told her that he was putting his feelings behind him once and for all, and begun dating Patrice to make her jealous. As it is revealed this week, Patrice is in on the whole ordeal, working toward the ultimate goal of setting Barney and Robin together. When Barney reveals to Ted that he plans to propose to Patrice, he knows his romantic friend will insist on filling Robin in on the information to give her the chance to win Barney back. This step is a twofold, as it also cements Ted's blessing of sorts for Barney and Robin's relationship. Ted delivers Robin to the World News Building (her favorite spot in the city) where Barney told Ted he'd be proposing to Patrice. But on the building's roof, Barney awaits Robin with a whole bunch of candles, a ring, and a complete divulging of every element of the plan ("The Robin," the final page of his Playbook) that led the two of them to this point.
Of course she lets it all slide. She is swept up in the overwhelming romance of the moment to maintain her dedication to the idea that Barney, to do all of the things he has done to Robin and his friends, is a borderline sociopath. But Robin's no angel herself. In fact, each and every one of these people is kind of a jackass. So, what are you gonna do? Applaud as they embrace.
All in all, the midseason finale is one of the stronger of the season's outputs. Despite the predictability of it all, the romance between Barney and Robin is not without its tenderness. An appearance by Ranjit can always be celebrated. And the rules of Jinx call back to How I Met Your Mother's more playful earlier days. Sure, the show has lost a ton of its luster, but we're at the very least finally closing in on the wedding. It's in real time now, not "a ways down the road." So they can't put it off too much longer.
[Photo Credit: Ron P. Jaffe/CBS]